Chilean volcano calms down

June 6, 2011 at 1:51 AM
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SANTIAGO, Chile, June 6 (UPI) -- A long-dormant Chilean volcano that roared back to life during the weekend quieted down Sunday, officials said.

MercoPress reported a light drizzle helped mitigate the airborne ash the Puyehue volcano in the Cordon Caulle region of the Andes mountains had pumped out Saturday.

"The city awakened in calm," said Marcelo Cascon, mayor of Bariloche, city of about 50,000 in Argentine Patagonia that had received a large amount of ash despite being 63 miles east of the volcano.

MercoPress said border patrols reported parts of Argentina's Route 40 were under a foot of ash. Driving in the region was being discouraged.

Bariloche schools and other public buildings were to remain closed Monday and people urged to stay inside their homes.

The volcanic activity interrupted air travel in the area, as well. Commercial flights into and out of Bariloche and Trelew were canceled at least until Wednesday, Argentina's Civil Aviation National Administration said. Air carriers Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral said service to Bariloche, Chapelco and Esquel was on hold until next Sunday, and to Trelew, Neuquen and Viedma until Wednesday.

The volcano had sent a column of gas 6 miles high and forced the evacuation of 3,500 people.

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